Biden says US will quadruple climate aid to poor countries

The relative frugality from Washington on climate aid is seen as a major obstacle to securing more ambitious action.

Biden says US will quadruple climate aid to poor countries

U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States would provide more than $11 billion of climate aid annually by 2024 to assist poorer countries vulnerable to extreme weather and rising temperatures.

But the president did not specify in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly how he plans to convince Congress to increase aid from a previously announced $5.7 billion commitment, which doubles Obama-era aid levels.

The relative frugality from the U.S. on climate aid is seen as a major obstacle to securing more ambitious action as countries head into November global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. But how Biden will realize his pledge to quadruple U.S. climate aid compared with second term Obama-era levels is an open question, telling the general assembly that his administration “will work with the Congress” to hit that mark.

“We also have to support the countries of people that will be hit the hardest and that have the fewest resources to help them adapt,” Biden said, saying that spending combined with leveraging private financing would bring rich countries closer to the $100 billion in annual climate finance it promised to poorer nations.”This will make the U.S. the leader of public climate finance.”

The U.N.climate conference is viewed as a political watershed moment for the world’s bidto keep temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The U.N. said last week that achieving current commitments to cut greenhouse gases would still warm the world 2.7 degrees Celsius in 2100.

Nations had in recent weeks amplified public pressure on the U.S. to boost climate aid targets. Rich nations have fallen more than $20 billion short of meeting a previous 2009 pledge to supply poorer nations with $100 billion of yearly climate assistance, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Republicans, who could take back either the Senate or the House — or both— in 2022, have historically shunned doling out more money for global climate initiatives. And while Democrats hold a thin majority in Congress, much of Biden’s climate agenda is unresolved. Hundreds of billions of dollars hang in the balance as Congress weighs two massive bills that would fund everything from electric vehicle incentives to subsidizing more renewable power.

“The scientists and experts are telling us that we’re fast approaching a point of no return, in the literal sense, to keep within our reach the final goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Biden said. “Every nation needs to bring their highest possible ambition to the table when we meet in Glasgow.”

The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and has sent more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere than any country, largely by burning fossil fuels. Analyses show that the “fair share” of U.S. climate spending based on the size of its economy and greenhouse gas emissions that have heated the planet is upwards of $40 billion annually.

The U.S. is far below that mark. Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget request asked for $2.5 billion for international climate programs.

“What the administration has pledged to date fails to meet the scale of the challenge,” Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns with ActionAid USA, said in a statement, referring to Biden’s new pledge.

Several environmental groups last week asked Biden to spend at least $12 billion annually on climate aid by 2024. Rachel Cleetus, policy director with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate and energy program, said in a statement that Biden’s new goal is a “welcome and much-needed sign that the United States is finally taking its global climate responsibilities seriously,” but that Congress must also pass Biden’s domestic climate agenda to improve the “United States’ credibility on the world stage.”

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Johnson & Johnson says booster shot provides strong protection against COVID-19

Many countries are determining when and whether to roll out booster programs.

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot provides strong protection against COVID-19

WASHINGTON — Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine given two months after the first strengthens protection against moderate illness and severe disease.

The company said a late-stage clinical trial found that giving a second shot of the single-dose vaccine produced 75 percent protection against moderate and severe disease globally. That figure rose to 94 percent in the United States.

Giving a booster shot six months after the first dose also produced a twelvefold higher antibody level, J&J said.

The booster data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

“Our single-shot vaccine generates strong immune responses and long-lasting immune memory,” said Mathai Mammen, the global head of research and development at J&J’s Janssen subsidiary. “And, when a booster of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is given, the strength of protection against COVID-19 further increases.”

Just under 15 million people in the United States have gotten the J&J COVID-19 shot. The company said earlier this year that a single shot of its vaccine provided 66 percent protection against moderate and severe disease.

J&J’s data comes as the federal government wrestles with when and how to roll out COVID-19 booster shots. Top White House and health officials last month backed a plan to roll boosters out broadly to most adults starting in late September. But that prompted fierce pushback from health experts in and out of the government, who argued that there was not yet sufficient data to justify a broad booster campaign.

Matters came to a head on Friday, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s independent vaccine advisory committee rejected the idea of allowing Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster to be used in people 16 and older, arguing that the available safety and efficacy data did not justify that far-ranging use. Instead, the panel voted in favor of giving the Pfizer-BioNTech booster to people over 65 and those at high-risk of severe disease.

It is not clear how closely FDA will hew to its advisory panel’s recommendation. The agency has yet to act on booster applications from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

J&J said it submitted its booster data to FDA and planned to also share it with regulators in other countries.

Source : Politico EU More   

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